Enjoy boating, cruises, and great local events for kids in Queens with these suggestions for fall water fun!
Queens residents really are spoiled for choice when it comes to spending time in, on or around the water. The obvious option is Flushing Meadows Corona Park’s Meadow Lake Boathouse, where you can rent paddle boats and row boats, take a series of sailing classes at an affordable rate, or do the tourist thing and take a cruise from World’s Fair Marina to the Statue of Liberty. Alternatively, you could catch the East River Ferry to Governors Island and enjoy the free Fete Paradiso. However, there is also a lot going on in the smaller bays in and around Queens, such as Little Neck Bay; Socrates Sculpture Park also has a lot to offer in terms of watery exploration and education.
Little Neck Bay’s National Estuaries Day
The Alley Pond Environmental Center (APEC) is open year-round, offering weekday and weekend children’s workshops in animal care, wet and wild crafts, weather-watching, plays and storytelling, as well as having plenty of nature trails to explore. On Saturday September 28 they host their annual National Estuaries day, which offers canoe rides, craft projects, games, guided coastal walks, honey-tasting, live music and plenty of animals, all for free! The event is to commemorate America’s coastal bays and to cultivate stewardship of the estuary, and is a good opportunity for your kids to learn about nature, history and the water in a safe and fun environment. Be sure to wear clothes that can get a bit wet, and pack a towel or two.
Socrates Sculpture Park
The Coastal Classroom in the park’s education area offers free, drop-in workshops for children every Saturday from now until the end of September, linking nature to arts and crafts to help develop knowledge and awareness of the East River and the tidal waters surrounding New York City. Children have an opportunity each week to work with a different artist, as they explore different and unusual art mediums and varying subject matter. A particular highlight is Plastic Bag Couture, where your kids get to turn your leftover plastic bags into customized fashion totes.
After learning all about the East River, the LIC Community Boathouse at the park offers the perfect opportunity to get out and explore. The volunteer-run center offers free walk up paddles to Hallets Cove, as well as free kayaking and canoeing. The organized Sunset Paddles are a beautiful way to end the day. Remember, your clothing will get a little wet!
East River Cruising
If a day on the water is what you are after, taking in the sights that people travel thousands of miles to see, then Flushing is your place. The World’s Fair Marina is a one-stop shop, whether you want to hire a charter boat or go sightseeing on a Skyline Princess day cruise. With the summer heat and the sun reflecting off the water, it is important to protect your children against sunstroke and dehydration, so be sure to pack plenty of water and keep the sunscreen topped up. A lifejacket is required and a hat is recommended, as is any necessary medication for motion sickness. When planning a boating trip, consider also your child’s temperament, as they will be sitting still for a long period of time and need to be able to follow directions. According to AbilityFirst, day trips and cruises make especially great vacation activities for children with disabilities, as they are educational and sensory as well as great fun.
Alternatively, you might want to simply make the most of the city’s great water-based transport, and catch a ferry over to Governors Island for the magical Fete Paradiso. This is a great day out for kids, and is very much deserving of the high praise it has received. As much an outdoor museum as a carnival, the Parisian vintage carousels, swing boats and other attractions makes it feel like a step back in time, with workers in 19th Century dress and French cuisine. Admission is free, and carnival rides and games cost $3 each. Visit before noon to avoid the crowds – and don’t forget your camera!
This review of water-based fun does not even begin to scratch the surface of what is available. This is not to forget Jamaica Bay, where you can take a boat trip before or after paying the Wildlife Sanctuary a visit. The multitude of opportunities available to educate your children about looking after the East River, its surrounding waters and their inhabitants, while also building their seafaring legs and having fun splashing about together, is one of the benefits of living in Queens – and so many of these opportunities are free to enjoy.
Written By: Lisa Henderson